Serbia return to defend their crown as six nations claim Women's EuroBasket berths
MUNICH (Germany) - Belgium, France, Greece, Montenegro, Turkey and reigning champions Serbia will all lineup at the FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023 after confirming their respective spots on Thursday night.
Reigning champions Serbia are heading back to the Final Round to defend their cherished title after they won their Group E derby battle with Croatia. They completed a crushing 85-57 victory, built around a fine 21 points and 10 rebounds from Jovana Nogic.
There will be further Balkan representation from Montenegro who will appear for the seventh consecutive time after they defeated Austria 65-48 to be crowned Group F winners. They relied on an efficient 15 points and 11 rebounds from Dragana Zivkovic, plus 16 points and 9 boards from the experienced Jelena Dubljevic.
France had to work hard against Lithuania to take an entertaining 83-75 triumph on the road. Marine Johannes had a team-high 21 points, while Gabby Williams added 17 points and Marieme Badiane landed 16 points and 9 rebounds. The result means Lithuania still have a fighting chance of making it, although they are likely to need a big win against Ukraine in their last outing.
Belgium took the third podium step at the last edition and the Cats will soon get set for another medal rush after clinching their place with an emphatic 69-44 win in Germany. Emma Meesseman paced Belgium with 19 points in a result that delivered a blow to the hosts because of the impact on their points difference.
Perhaps the strangest feeling came for Turkey in a bitter-sweet moment as they were beaten 76-72 in Group D by Poland, but will still progress to the Final Round. Teaira McCowan was the leader as usual with 19 points and 16 rebounds, while Poland deserve massive credit for their best result of the campaign, benefitting from 14 assists from Weronika Gajda and 17 points from Agnieszka Skobel.
Similarly, Greece will head back for another edition of the flagship competition after suffering a first Group G setback. They advance despite going down 66-60 to Portugal who kept their own chances of a best runners-up spot very much alive. Maria Bettencourt Correia was exceptional with 32 points for Portugal. while Maria Fasoula stood out with 27 points and 12 rebounds for Greece.
Elsewhere, North Macedonia caused a surprise with their first win as they sneaked past Bosnia and Herzegovina 68-66 in Group A. Nena Trajchevska weighed in with 17 points and 9 rebounds, while Courtney Hurt was unfortunate to be on the losing team after 21 points and 15 boards in defeat.
Ukraine are still hoping they can make it out of Group B and boosted their confidence by striding past Finland 74-59 with Alina Iagupova typically influential after racking up 22 points and 10 boards.
The already qualified Spain are one win away from a flawless campaign after they went 5-0 courtesy of a 75-32 lockdown of Romania as Angela Salvadores top scored with 14 points.
Maria Erauncetamurguil, Mariona Ortiz and Marta Canella all debuted in the game, while experienced guard Sandra Ygueravide won her second cap at 38-years-old.
Also in Group C, Hungary are now just one victory away from qualifying after they coasted past Iceland 89-49 thanks mainly to Virag Kiss. The frontcourt operator excelled with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
Tournament co-hosts Slovenia had little difficulty brushing aside Albania 124-52 in Group D, with Sara Vujacic and Mojca Jelenc sharing 34 points for the youthful home side.
Great Britain are still fighting in Group G and set for a last day showdown with Portugal after Temi Fagbenle propelled them past Estonia 100-45. The forward harvested 23 points and 7 rebounds as the home side avenged a shock loss in the previous meeting.
Slovakia are confident they can qualify as one of the best-placed runners-up after they shrugged off a slow start against Switzerland in Group H to complete a 78-50 triumph. A contribution of 17 points and 11 rebounds from Miroslava Mistinova was the highlight.
Italy have already qualified from the same pool and they overwhelmed Luxembourg 109-51, helped by a brutal 35-8 last quarter. Guard Nicole Romeo went 7 of 8 from the floor for 21 points to lead Italian efforts.
Czech Republic are still favorites to finish as Group I winners on Sunday after they blasted away Ireland 74-57. Veronika Vorackova did the damage with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, with the Czechs now needing to finish the job with a win against Netherlands.
This summer's co-hosts Israel sunk Sweden's hopes with a commanding 71-57 victory. Their opponents welcomed back Frida and Elin Eldebrink to their backcourt, but they were undone by Israel's Alyssa Baron showing out with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals.